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5 Ways to Beat Procrastination

5 Ways to Beat Procrastination

Ever have a plan in the works that you just can’t seem to get excited about? Ever have a deadline lacking the “gusto” to get you going? Ever stare at a blank screen wondering what everyone else is up to? Then this post is for you.

In the advent of social media, 4K television, and let’s face it -YouTube – it can be all too easy to play “Hide and Seek” with the multitude of tasks that we have at hand. Life seems to be moving so fast that in order to keep up we must shelf our individual obligations in favor of aimless digital wandering – to our own detriment.

A huge part of the problem in today’s balancing act of life is our increasing inability to “disconnect” and tackle our goals forthright. Assuming that you’re able to pull away from the cord – here are 5 ways to beat procrastination.

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Call Your Own Bluff

A big part of what consumes our focus are the bottomless thoughts of other, more entertaining things that we could be doing instead of what we are supposed to be engaged with. Whether it be exercising, starting that novel you’ve been thinking about, or perhaps even finally sending a message to that person that you have a crush on. As valid and enduring as these things may seem – chances are that they’re non-pressing issues that can be dealt with at a later time. The trick here is to call your own bluff.

Instead of wasting time daydreaming about the “better” things that you could be doing – do them. Indulge your procrastinative thoughts. Usually, the things that we think about doing to avoid what we should be doing are meaningless and relatively inconsequential. Make a deal with yourself that it’s either one or the other – and watch as those pointless thoughts dissolve.

Once faced with the obvious selection of reality versus fantasy, your drive will take effect, and your respective task should be easy to begin. In any case, should you choose latter, (with the distraction solved) you can – at that time – engage your initial responsibility.

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Go For a Walk

All too often we underestimate the power of taking a walk. To the procrastinator, it can seem like a time waster, meaningless, and just down-right boring. Defeat this thought by just getting up and moving. You don’t require a destination, nor do you need much else other than shoes on your feet and clothes on your back.

Walking provides an escape from the space of distraction and a separation from embedded laziness. Give yourself anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full hour to simply leave your home and wander about for a bit. This provides an arena for your action and thoughts to become a singularity. As your ideas wander aimlessly so do you. You’ll find that by doing this, you exhaust the momentum of your inner procrastinator.

Upon returning home with a clear mind – go directly to the task at hand. With your thoughts freed, your focus will become clear and unwavering.

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Why’s and Why Not’s

Should you not have the time to go for a walk or indulge in internal ultimatums, a simple list of why’s and why not’s can be a quick and easy way to sort through the muddled procrastinative mind. This list never has to be put into action. Instead, what writing this down does, is force your mind to focus on that responsibility.

Assuming that your obligation is important, the “why’s” section of your list will undoubtedly be longer than the “why not’s”. In either case, fold that list in half and concentrate on the why’s. Use this as motivation to handle your task, as well as a catalyst of focus should your diluting thoughts return.

Create a Reward

Human beings are complex, yet simple. If you look at anyone around you and honestly at yourself, you’ll find that there are few better functioning systems than ones built on rewards. This never has to be anything monumental – as a matter of fact, it may even work better if the reward is something small and immediate.

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Treat yourself to a snack, purchase something that you can’t justify buying, or create a checklist and bask in the jubilance of crossing it off. Little things can drive motivation, considering that your procrastination often goes unrewarded (or even punished) – a small of token of achievement to work toward, can easily silence the beast of aimless mental wandering.

Accountability

Considering none of the aforementioned advice works, an easy fail-safe method to annihilate procrastination is simply adding accountability. Instead of sitting around and staring at the ceiling, phone a friend or family member close to you, and explain the situation to them. Inform them of the importance of the task at hand, and ask them to hold you accountable for it’s incompletion.

Keep in mind, the friend or family member never really has to do much. The instant that the correspondence is over, the gravity of your responsibility will feel as if it’s been multiplied ten-fold. In essence, you’d be tapping into the human condition known as “fight or flight”. This added pressure will drive ambition, enhance focus, and provide momentum. Though seemingly severe, it’s a great way to kick yourself into high gear.

Conclusion

Procrastination can seem like an unbeatable wall on the path to achieving your goals. Though many may attempt to avoid it by staying habitually active – the truth of the matter is that sometimes the best method is to confront it head-on. With the help of these steps, procrastination will become a worry of the past.

Featured photo credit: Shlomi Yosef via flickr.com

More by this author

Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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